O’Neil: Seahawks are picking up speed as they turn the corner

Nov 25, 2018, 11:04 PM
In the Seahawks' last three games, Russell Wilson has seven TD passes and no interceptions. (AP)...
In the Seahawks' last three games, Russell Wilson has seven TD passes and no interceptions. (AP)

The Seahawks got over the hump on Sunday in Carolina.

That goes for more than just Sunday’s game. It’s true for Seattle’s season, too, as this team that wound up high-centered in so many close games during the first two months of the year is picking up speed entering the most important month of the regular season.

When Sebastian Janikowski kicked his 31-yard, game-winning field goal, it was the final play in a five-week widow-maker stretch of Seattle’s schedule. In five weeks, the Seahawks played five different franchise quarterbacks and four of those teams had a better record than Seattle entering the meeting.

That’s why Sunday’s win was so important. It wasn’t just a comeback win on the road. It was a comeback win on the road against a Panthers team that held a one-game lead on Seattle in the wild-card standings.

And all Seattle did was score the final 10 points of the game, erasing a fourth-quarter deficit for the second straight game, and they now enter what is almost literally the home stretch of their season. They’ll host four of their final five regular-season games.

But this was more than just a strategically important victory when it comes to the schedule. This was a game that will change Seattle’s season in the same way that the Seahawks’ overtime victory in Chicago changed the trajectory of not just of their 2012 season, but for years beyond.

Yes. This was that kind of game. The Seahawks turned a corner.

The Seahawks aren’t learning how good their quarterback is this time, but they are being reminded of it with a pair of the gutsiest throws he has ever made.

Facing fourth-and-3, Wilson threw a pass into the end zone that was so perfect that receiver David Moore needed only one hand to catch it for a 35-yard touchdown.

And after the Panthers missed what would have been the go-ahead field goal, Wilson had an absolutely cold-blooded third-down conversion, needing just 5 yards and getting 43 on a pass to Tyler Lockett that set up the game-winner.

It’s not like the Seahawks haven’t had signature victories over the past few years. They beat the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles at home in December last year. In 2016, Seattle was the only team in the league to beat both the Patriots and the Falcons, who ended up playing each other in the Super Bowl.

But that was a different time, and more importantly a different team. Those wins hinted that the Seahawks team that made back-to-back Super Bowl appearances remained a bonafide contender.

That’s not the case this year. No one characterized the Seahawks as a Super Bowl contender. Many expected that Seattle would finish closer to getting the first overall pick in the draft than the playoffs, and yet here the Seahawks are at 6-5 with a favorable schedule the rest of the way and a quarterback who has thrown seven touchdown passes in these past three games without being intercepted a single time.

Two weeks ago, the Seahawks were 1-5 in games decided by eight points or fewer, and it was fair to wonder if they were ever going to get over the hump this season.

After consecutive wins by three points apiece, it looks like these Seahawks haven’t just gotten over the hump, but turned the corner.

More coverage of the Seahawks’ win over Carolina:

Rost’s takeaways: WRs Lockett, Moore come up big
O’Neil: Seahawks didn’t win so much as they survived
Instant Reaction: 710 ESPN Seattle’s hosts on Seahawks’ victory
Janikowski’s field goal lifts Seahawks over Panthers 30-27

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